By Obiejesi Kingsley
The menace of human trafficking has continued to linger in Nigeria with the 2016 global slavery index revealing that about 27 million people have been trafficked overtime across the globe, and in Nigeria alone, 875,500 people are estimated to have fallen victim to human traffickers over the years.
This was made known by Joseph Chidiebere, the Executive Director of Devatop Centre for Africa Development, a Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO, that is dedicated to tackling the challenges of human trafficking in Nigeria.
He spoke to icirnigeria on the occasion of the European Union Anti-Human Trafficking Day, during which the organization, supported by National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, embarked on sensitization campaigns, to raise awareness on the dangers of human trafficking.
According to Chidiebere, human trafficking is almost becoming an epidemic in Nigeria, especially with the increase in the rate of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and insecurity.
He said: “Nigeria is described as a source, the transit and the destination of people who are trafficked; which means that so many victims come from Nigeria, some are also brought to Nigeria. Nigeria is among the top countries with the highest number of human trafficking cases.
“Considering the nature of poverty, community crises, insurgency and so many factors that contribute to human trafficking, so human trafficking in Nigeria is very high.
“According to Global Slavery index 2016, there are 875, 500 victims of Human trafficking in Nigeria, though globally we have about 27 million people. As of last two years, it was about 700,000, but it has increased in the last two years.”
The young activist stated that government has a major role to play in the fight against human trafficking.
He noted that NAPTIP, formed in 2003, is doing its best, but lots more need to be done in the areas of enlightenment and prevention, urging Government to properly fund the agency for better performance.
“I will tell you that they (NAPTIP) are doing well, but not enough, because the fight against human trafficking is not what one agency can fight alone,” Chidiebere said.
“This is a crime that is worth up to $32 billion, so you can’t leave it in the hands of government alone.”
“I will also say that government has been very reluctant after establishing NAPTIP.
“Yes, NAPTIP has been doing its work but they need to be funded. They are not properly funded.”
He added that “government should also fund private organisations” as is obtainable in other countries of the world.
Chidiebere added that efforts should be directed more on interventions and preventions of incidences of human trafficking, which according to him, is less expensive than trying to rescue and rehabilitate victims after they must have fallen victim to traffickers.
He noted that his organization’s major challenge since inception in 2013 has been the issue of funding, as government and corporate organizations do not take the issue seriously.
“In fact, when I started this campaign as a member of the National Youth Service Corps in 2013, I used up to 80% of my allowance to fund it,” Chidiebere stated.
“I received about N20,000 allowance from the government and another N20,000 from my place of primary assignment, but at the end of the month, I hardly saved 5% of the monies because of passion.
“But as time went on, more people began to show interest, but in summary, the support has been very low. There is need for companies to adopt anti-human trafficking projects as their Corporate Social Responsibility, which will also help the fight.”
He also called on businesses and faith-based organisations to commit to the anti-human trafficking crusade.
“We want the public to know that this is a fight for all, it’s everyone’s concern,” the Devatop Chief Executive Director said.
“We want people to know that we’ve been in this fight and we also need people to be part of this fight.”
Chidiebere said that his institution was working on establishing an ‘Academy for the Prevention of Human Trafficking’.
He noted that a pilot project was launched in 2015, where about 120 people from the various states of the country were selected, trained and empowered “to go to their communities and do step-down training.”
“After some nine months, they reported that the impact was so rich. This 120 people reached out to about 6000 people and some even organized seminars in schools.
“Two of the participants established their own organizations to fight human trafficking.
“From the pilot project, we realized that if the academy was established, it will be very impactful,” he stated.
Chidiebere urged for more support to establish the Academy in order to train young people, who are more vulnerable to human trafficking.
“Our own ideology is that young people need to be equipped and empowered to be at the forefront of the anti-human trafficking movement.
“We are projecting that in the next five years, every local government area in Nigeria would have at least five trained anti-human trafficking advocates that will to create awareness, observe and report incidences of human trafficking,” he said.